Although the office Christmas party is always an event to look forward to, this year, more than ever, we all deserve to let our hair down and enjoy the festivities. We have all been counting down the days until we can finally say goodbye to 2020 for good and start fresh with (hopefully) a more positive year to look forward to.

However, the uncertainty of the pandemic does mean that planning a Christmas party for your business may be a little trickier as we cannot quite anticipate what will happen over the next few months. Nevertheless, this most definitely doesn’t mean that you cannot begin putting plans in place so that if, fingers crossed, life is a little more normal by the winter, your staff can enjoy a well-needed celebration!

Top Tip On Planning A Christmas Party

While it may seem a little early to begin planning for the festive season, you are guaranteed to have considerably more options if you opt for staying one step ahead of the game. In fact, August is the perfect time to reserve any dates in the diaries of venues, caterers and entertainers as you will be spoilt for choice with availability. Inevitably, the later you leave Christmas party planning, the harder it will be to schedule your party for the time period that you wish, meaning that you may become one of the many businesses celebrating in January. So, if just like us, you love to stay organised, then why not have a look at our top tips on planning the perfect corporate Christmas party?

Christmas Selfie

Delegate A Party Planner

The key behind a successful Christmas party is a well-organised planner, so your first task will always be to delegate someone who will take responsibility for putting together your celebrations. Depending on the scale of your business and number of employees you must accommodate, this can be just one trusted team member or a planning committee. Regardless of which of the two you opt for, those who will take charge of arrangements must not only be able to coordinate plans but also manage the budget. They should feel confident communicating both internally and with vendors and be able to negotiate well to ensure that plans run smoothly.

Once you have determined the best person or group to fit the role, you should take time to run through any ideas that you have for your celebrations. You may want to consider creating a simple questionnaire which will be sent across each department for feedback on what they would like to see at the Christmas party. This can include questions such as, what did you enjoy about last years celebrations? Is there anything you would like to see again? What did you not like about last years party? Do you have any ideas on what could be added this year? There are several different free online tools such as Smart Survey and Survey Monkey, which allow you to create digital questionnaires quickly.

When reading through feedback from others, keep in mind that you will never be able to please everyone, which means that you should go ahead with suggestions that are frequently mentioned. You’re likely to come across conflicting answers, so try to find the middle ground, ensuring that everyone enjoys their evening.

Set The Date

Not only is it vital to plan your Christmas party early to secure bookings but also to ensure that all team members can attend. The festive period is renowned for being super busy with family get-togethers and catch-ups with friends, so you should always aim to get a date pencilled in the diary in advance. As well as this, it means that any staff with young children have plenty of time to make arrangements with baby sitters, who are also likely to have limited availability closer to the time.

While shortlisting potential Christmas party dates, consider what days would fit best with your working week. If possible, try to choose dates that avoid anyone needing to head to work the morning after the party. This will be far easier to accommodate if you work weekdays; however, for those who work weekend shifts, consider speaking with your staff and asking who would be happy to be put on the rota for the following day. Once you have put together a handful of potential dates, send an email to teams asking which would be best suited to them or perhaps mention it in your next team meeting.

As soon as you have decided on a set date for your celebrations, don’t forget to send a “save the date” invitation to staff. This doesn’t need to include details of the party, such as location; however, it will help you to gauge an idea of how many people will be able to attend.

Planning At Christmas

Find Out The Budget

One of the biggest contributing factors towards your Christmas party planning will be the budget, so you’ll need to find out how much you have to work with before putting any ideas together. Once you have this, you will then be able to split the budget and allocate a percentage to each expense. Remember that the venue and catering will always be the most expensive, so prioritise these before considering the smaller additions.

To ensure that you can avoid overspending, always factor a contingency budget into your plan of action. A contingency budget is a small percentage of your total amount, usually between 5% and 10%, which will be used in the event of an emergency. This gives you a backup budget to spend on any unexpected expenses, preventing you from having to sacrifice something that you have already booked to free up some cash.

Much like when putting together your questionnaire, you can also find a host of helpful free budgeting templates online, which will help you to stay on track of your spending. Head over to SmartSheet for a host of templates from simple to complex depending on the scale of your party.

Establish Your Party Type

Once you have a date to work towards and a budget in place, it’s now the exciting part; you can finally begin to look for exciting locations to celebrate your year of achievements. Now, when looking for Christmas party inspiration, you most definitely will not be short for options. However, it is essential to keep in mind that this year, there may still be social distancing and additional rules in place, so venues may limit their offerings to comply with government guidelines.

Nevertheless, establishing your party type will always help towards your planning efforts. With this in mind, we suggest considering which of the following is best suited to your team:

  • Christmas Party Package – One of the easiest ways to celebrate the festive period is to opt for a Christmas party package. This is likely to be a shared event in a large venue but will include everything from catering to drinks, making it a popular choice amongst smaller companies. You will not need to plan anything for this evening, simply pay for your table, turn up on the day and enjoy your evening. Christmas Parties Unlimited is a useful website which allows you to search for pre-planned celebrations based on your number of guests, budget and location.
  • Bespoke Christmas Party – If you want to plan every aspect from scratch, then a bespoke Christmas party would be the best route. Although it will take significantly more planning, this option is a fantastic way to add a real touch of personality to your event. Although businesses of all scales can opt for planning their own celebration, it is often better suited to larger organisations as you will need a high budget. Many of the clients we work alongside when offering our event hire in London choose the bespoke route so that they can incorporate a unique theme, activities and catering choice.

Sparklers

Track Down Your Venue

For those who have opted to plan a bespoke Christmas party, the trickiest aspect of planning will be tracking down the perfect venue. While researching, ask yourself the folllowing questions:

  • How many guests will be attending? Particularly if you have chosen a sit-down meal, your venue will need to be able to accommodate seating for each attendee.
  • Does the venue need to be local? If you are looking for locations further afield, you must ensure that you have enough budget to cover transport and accommodation.
  • Do you require a venue that provides catering or will you hire externally? Should you wish to hire an outside company, your venue must be happy for other vendors to operate within their premises.
  • Will your Christmas party be themed? If you have chosen a theme, then would you like a venue that encapsulates this or would you prefer a blank canvas that you can decorate?

Although there is no harm in booking a venue which has rules in place, if you are hoping for an option that offers more freedom, then why not consider our marquee hire in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas? With a vast collection of inflatable event venues available for hire, it couldn’t be easier to find an option that fits with your requirements. From the 14m by 14m InflataCube to the cosier InflataIgloo, when choosing one of our Inflatatents, you are free to customise your package as much as you wish. This is the ideal venue option for events during the pandemic as you will be able to take full control over the measures that you put in place, ensuring that no one but your internal team comes into contact with the inside of your tent. For more information on packages or to get booked in for the Christmas period, please do not hesitate to contact our team.

Go All Out With The Food & Drink

One of the first things that spring to mind when thinking about Christmas is the endless supply of delicious food and using any excuse to refill your glass. So, with this in mind, if you’re looking for the perfect time to go all out with your choice in food and drink, then now is the time!

While many companies will stick with the traditional Christmas dinner for their festive celebrations, this most definitely doesn’t have to be the case if you are looking for something a little different. In fact, as many see their dinner as the highlight of their Christmas Day, your staff are likely to be thankful that you are offering an alternative option.

Before shortlisting ideas, consider whether you would like a three-course meal, buffet-style catering or a more relaxed option such as a food truck. You will also need to keep in mind whether you need to accommodate any dietary requirements such as vegetarian or dairy-free alternatives. Many places often put little effort into alternative dishes, so spend time looking for those who offer tasty options, so no one has to miss out on a delicious meal. You could even plan a sampling session with caterers, giving you a taster of what to expect before securing your booking.

For 200 different ideas on how you can cater your Christmas party, take a look at the Event Manager Blog.

Christmas Meal

A Christmas Party To Remember!

If you have followed our tips and still have some budget left over, then this would be perfect for putting towards some extra special finishing touches. Whether this will be hiring a minibus so that staff do not have to worry about transport or festive goodie bags, there is no better way to thank teams for their hard work than using the excess budget for last-minute treats.

For those who are beginning their Christmas party planning and in need of a helping hand, the team at Inflatatent are always on hand with venue inspiration. Find out more about our event hire in Oxford and the local areas by getting in touch with us!